Italy have now won the team pursuit a record eight times at the Olympics, but this was their first victory in the event since the 1960 Rome Games in Rome.
There was more badly needed good news for the Australian track team on Wednesday, with Kaarle McCulloch reaching the keirin quarter-finals.
After finishing fourth in her opening heat, McCulloch took second in a repechage behind Hong Kong star Lee Wai Sze.
That means McCulloch will go into a quarter-final on Thursday night ahead of the medal round.
Until McCulloch’s progression and then the team pursuit bronze, it had been a dim afternoon for the Australians.
Top sprint hope Matthew Glaetzer pulled out of the event, with the team saying he was unwell after combining with Matthew Richardson and Nathan Hart for a frustrating fourth on Tuesday in the team sprint.
Richardson replaced Glaetzer, joining Hart in the match sprint, and they were 22nd- and 23rd-fastest out of the 24 qualifiers.
The Australians lost their round-one sprints and were knocked out in the repechage.
After the disaster of Rio, the team pursuit bronze is a welcome result, but otherwise it is proving another testing Olympics for the Australian track cycling team.
The fourth for the men’s team sprint and the fifth for the women’s team pursuiters on Tuesday repeated their Rio results.
Glaetzer is yet to win a medal at three Olympics, with four fourth placings.
Anna Meares’ 2012 sprint triumph has been the only Olympics gold medal for the track cycling team since it dominated the 2004 Athens Games, winning five.
Glaetzer was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in late 2019 and missed the February 2020 world championships because of a torn calf.
He is the top Australian men’s sprinter, winning the 2018 world title in the match sprint and the 2012 team sprint crown.